Photo credit Manny's.

This Chicago Jewish Deli Marks 80 Years Serving Up Its Iconic Corned Beef and Pastrami

Manny's marks 80 years with a smoky twist on one of their most popular items.

“The best part about working for Manny’s is continuing the family legacy and talking to customers who have been coming here for multiple generations.”

Dan Raskin, fourth-generation owner of Manny’s and grandson of one of the original founders, Manny Raskin, is looking forward to celebrating the Jewish “cafeteria style” deli’s 80th anniversary on Tuesday, August 30th. Raskin is proud to carry the torch of the family-run business.

“I love hearing stories about my grandfather from customers who knew him. It’s also a great accomplishment that much of our staff has been around for so long. It feels wonderful to celebrate with them.”

The deli was founded by Russian-born brothers, Jack, Charlie and Mannie Raskin, who specialized in cooking Jewish specialities — like knishes, kugel and corned beef — and serving them up in large portions.

Manny’s on-site celebration will feature a brand new menu item: a smoked pastrami sandwich. In addition to free cake, soft drinks and a complimentary latke with each purchase of a sandwich, Manny’s will debut the new smoked pastrami at half-price on the day of the festivities.

“We’ve always had a great pastrami sandwich though it was never heavily smoked,” fourth-generation owner, Dan Raskin, tells me. Dan is the grandson of the late Manny Raskin, original owner of the delicatessen

“I’ve always been enamored by the flavors of Texas barbecue and Montreal-style smoked meat. So we came out with a whole brisket which we’ll be making into our smoked pastrami and launching on Tuesday for our 80th,” Raskin tells me.

Snack at Manny’s Delicatessen, Chicago, IL, 2010.  Image Professionals GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Like many restaurants, particularly in big cities like Chicago, Manny’s took a hit during the pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped them from continuing to build a community of loyal customers.

“We’ve been resilient. We’re building back after the pandemic. Every month gets a little busier. We’re very fortunate.”

The love for the Chicago staple is clear and the deli’s ability to withstand the hard knocks of the post-pandemic restaurant landscape are a testament to customers’ connection to the latkes, soup and sandwiches Manny’s is so famous for.

When I asked Raskin what his favorite item on the menu is, he tells me, “I have a favorite item in each category. My favorite entrée is the short ribs. As far as sandwiches go, it’s probably our regular pastrami, but the new pastrami may take over as my favorite.”

And he probably won’t be the only one. Come August 30th, Manny’s will provide customers with a brand new sandwich to celebrate 80 years of family, community and delicious deli classics.

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